Friday, May 6, 2016

Lagniappe: Left-handed Hops

During their growing season, hops are astonishingly vigorous, rising six inches in a single day. The vines stretch away from the central stalk during the day; at night, they wrap themselves around wires or other supports. "You walk through the fields in the late afternoon, and you'll see all these vines reaching out at forty-five degree angles," said Oregon hop farmer Gayle Goschie. "Then you come out the next morning and they're wrapped tightly around the trellis again." They spiral around the trellis in a clockwise direction, which has inspired a couple of botanical urban legends: one is that they grow counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, and the other is that they grow clockwise to follow the sun from east to west. Neither is true. Like left-handedness, they are simply born with a genetic predisposition to grow clockwise, no matter where they are relative to the sun or the equator. (Botanists who study "twining handedness" have discovered that hops are unusual in their proclivity to twine in a clockwise direction; 90 percent of all climbing plants prefer to go counterclockwise.)
Amy Stewart, The Drunken Botanist
Wouldn't it be fascinating to be in a hopfield and see all those vines at 45° angles? It must be like something from a science fiction movie. I really love how diverse nature is, even in when it shares so many similarities for something like twining up a stick.

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